As smart homes become more popular among consumers, buyers and sellers are showing greater interest in those homes and smart-home technologies and Realtors in a certification to acknowledge their experience and expertise in those features.
This is according to the National Association of Realtors' inaugural Smart Homes and Realtors report, which found that Realtors are becoming more interested in a smart home certification, despite the fact that only 15 percent of agents are receiving questions about smart home technology from their clients.
According to the report, which analyzed the importance of smart home technology to Realtors, 42 percent of respondents stated they are interested in acquiring a smart home certification, while 22 percent are not interested and 36 percent were undecided.
"More homeowners are adopting smart-home technology and that will likely impact buyers' purchase decisions in the future. While consumer interest in this trend is still developing, Realtors are becoming well-versed in successfully marketing smart homes and their features, such as devices and appliances," said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties, a division of his family real estate business.
Of the respondents who are interested in a smart home certification, 23 percent of agents have one-year experience or less, whereas 54 percent have more than 16 years of experience. There is greater interest in a smart home designation for agents over 55 years of age (47 percent), compared to agents 45 years or younger (30 percent).
In terms of smart home devices, 37 percent of Realtors said clients find smart locks to be very important, followed by lights at 29 percent and thermostats at 26 percent. Forty-three percent said clients were neutral about the importance of voice control features and 38 percent for smart appliances and doorbells.
When it comes to the importance of smart home functions to their clients, 80 percent of Realtors see security as very or somewhat important. Nearly half of Realtors view privacy as a very important smart home function to their clients, while 30 percent see it as somewhat important. Four in ten Realtors see both cost savings and energy savings to be very important to their clients and 38 percent see comfort to be a very important smart home function.
According to the report, slightly more than half of Realtors' clients were not familiar with what's available for smart home technology. Nearly 40 percent of Realtors discussed security and privacy issues with their clients followed by technology cost at 31 percent and interoperability at 6 percent.
Of the many types of smart home technologies available, 42 percent of Realtors said clients were most interested in smart home devices, followed by whole home technology (22 percent) and smart home technology for specific rooms (13 percent); 41 percent of clients were not interested in any of these technologies.
"As smart home technologies evolve, it's extremely important that our members are aware of what's available and what advantages and challenges these devices provide," said Mark Lesswing, chief technology officer at NAR. "The work we're doing at NAR's Center for Realtor Technology is key to this understanding. This report helps us understand how our work is impacting our members."
The mission of NAR's Center for Realtor Technology is to track emerging technologies that will affect real estate, educate its members, advocate for the proper use of technology, and innovate when there is a gap between what is needed and what is available.
In 2015, CRT established a lab to investigate smart home/internet of things devices, renewable energy, urban agriculture and building materials, as well as any other emerging technologies as they become evident. CRT is working with national laboratories, universities, government and non-governmental organizations, and vendors to help promote NAR as an agent for technology research and innovation.
CRT plans to use this report to benchmark its efforts in educating members on smart home technology. The goal is to help Realtors® help their clients better understand the market and advocate for their proper and safe use of these products and devices.